SOS! Why Did My Shampoo and Conditioner Stop Working?

April 27, 2020
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
immune to hair care

Once upon a time, I found a shampoo and conditioner combo that brightened my blonde, lifted my roots and gave me a silky shine and tangle-free texture. Then, just as my oh-so perfect strands we’re looking fab BAM — my love affair with my hair came to an abrupt stop. My luscious locks started to look dull and drab, my strands were becoming knotty and my volume was non-existent. WTF happened? . Because my routine hadn’t changed, I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I had become immune to my hair products. To get some answers and figure out how to reboot my hair, I turned to Color Wow Hair’s Chief Chemist Dr. Joe Cincatta and celebrity hairstylist Jill Buck from Nine Zero One Salon. Here’s what I learned. 

Can You Actually Become Immune to Your Hair Care? 

In short, you can’t actually become immune to your hair care products (phew!). Dr. Cincatta explains that because your hair isn’t a living organism it can’t legitimately or knowingly become resistant or immune to your shampoo and conditioner. “We must remember that hair is dead once it’s damaged and can’t repair itself,” he says. But even though our hair can’t develop a true immunity to our beloved products, our strands can start to respond differently to them. The reason, according to Dr. Cincatta, is that shampoos often contain ingredients like conditioning polymers, silicones, waxes and oils that create a buildup on the hair over time. “This buildup of silicones, waxes and polymers on the surface of the hair can cause it to 1.) lose its natural luster since light isn’t reflecting properly, 2.) add excessive weight to hair and cause it to drop and lose volume, and 3.) change the texture of your hair so it no longer has the silky texture when you run your fingers through it.” 

Buck adds that the sudden switch-up in how your hair looks and feels could also be due to external factors like your diet, environment and styling choices. “The place you live or the weather (think: dry, arid, humid) can make a huge difference because the air and water change,” she says. “For example, living by the ocean may mean you don’t need as much moisture anymore but you should add an extra heat protectant.” Water can have different concentrations of minerals in it as well, so changing your shampoo to fight factors like chlorine, which can make hair feel straw-like, or copper, which can contribute to split ends, are key. 

How to Reset Your Hair 

You may have set your go-to shampoo and conditioner on the sidelines, but don’t worry because with a few tricks you can reset your hair and get back to using your fave products. “Use a shampoo that’s sole purpose is to cleanse your hair and scalp,” says Dr. Cincatta. “I recommend the Color Wow Color Security Shampoo because it’s sulfate-free, gentle and is clinically proven to leave nothing behind on the hair or scalp.” He explains that a silicone-free shampoo that can expel build-up and gunk will leave your strands feeling refreshed. For a detoxifying and clarifying option, we also like the Matrix Biolage Clean Reset Shampoo


Another tip? Let your hair get a little greasy. “Do a no-shampoo challenge and let your hair reset to its natural state before adding more and more product,” says Buck. “For one week only wash your hair with water, exfoliate your scalp well with your fingertips and add a conditioner to the ends.” Once your product detox has wrapped, you can assess how your hair feels and pick a shampoo based on what your hair is craving, like volume or moisture. Who knows, after your hair detox you may find a new go-to shampoo and conditioner combo.